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Posted at 10:46 PM ET, 12/ 7/2010

A very 'Glee' Christmas: We watch so you don't have to

By Lisa de Moraes

Merry Christmas, from the glee club. They won't let anyone take away their holiday spirit.(Fox)

WaPo Team TV's Emily Yahr writes:

Sabotage, heartbreak, deception, gifts -- sounds like a Christmas episode of "Glee." Sudden, random dispensing of all sad plotlines to hurriedly wrap things up happily ever after -- sounds even more like a Christmas episode of "Glee"!

"Glee," where plot consistency goes to die, wrapped up the first half of the season with one of its more nonsensical episodes, once again trying gamely to wrap a storyline around songs that will be sold on iTunes and in an album. This should have been easy this week, given that the tunes all had a Christmas theme -- but, turns out, not so much.

On to the episode:


Guess who doesn't love Christmas? If you said Sue Sylvester, you'd be correct. The forever track-suited cheerleading coach does not enjoy holidays in which the main themes are "cheer" and "joy" and "giving to others." So Sue rigs the McKinley High School staff's Secret Santa program, and all the staffers draw a slip of paper with her name on it. When the other staffers discover her crime, Sue refuses to return the presents, or give them to homeless kids. Glee club coach Will and the other staffers take back the gifts anyway while she's not around, but then stupidly leave them under a tree in the glee club room -- because, hey, this is "Glee." Sue disguises herself as the Grinch who stole Christmas and she and faithful Becky break into the glee club room and destroy their tree, decorations, sheet music and even the piano. Vandalism of school property apparently is not a crime in Gleeville.

Anyway, Sue-as-Grinch also steals the presents from under the tree that were intended for homeless kids -- of course she does! Because, you see, she hates the glee club and glee club coach Will's hair. You had to be there.


In case you've forgotten the place in the Rachel-Finn saga, they are currently "off" because she made out with Puck last week, and Finn's not pleased. Even after Rachel sings "Merry Christmas, Darling," especially for him, and they duet with "Last Christmas" while shopping for Christmas trees, Finn tells her he simply can't forgive her for what she and Puck did. And yet, soon thereafter, Finn is seen walking down the hall at school prattling merrily with Puck. Once Finn gets one foot on the ground, he's really quite a jerk, isn't he? Anyway, Finn and Rachel are through. Forever. Until the next sweep.

Also, Emma and Carl are still married after their quickie Vegas wedding. Will, devastated, decides to spend Christmas alone, wearing truly heinous sweater vests.

Kurt's at his new school, and in a scene totally removed from the other storylines at hand, performs the duet "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Blaine, in a fancy private-school study room with leather couches and a roaring fireplace. It's the highlight of the episode, on so many levels. Blaine is now officially the object of Kurt's affections, but Blaine has not returned Kurt's love, so ... heartbreak.


Meanwhile, Brittany -- who thinks that dolphins are just gay sharks and her cat reads her diary -- still believes in Santa Claus, who is sometimes a white guy, sometimes a black guy, sometimes Coach Beiste. Brittany's boyfriend, Artie decides to play along and persuades the glee club to play too. Brittany tells Santa all she wants for Christmas is for wheelchair-bound Artie to be able to walk. The glee guys ask Coach Beiste to break into Brittany's house and give her the harsh truth about Artie not being able to walk, ever. If it weren't so creepy, it would be sweet. But it is so creepy. Anyway, Coach Beiste does that little thing and Brittany is crushed to learn Santa may not be magical after all.

But after all this, guess what? It's nearly time for the episode to end and its many holiday tunes to go on sale. So, some mystery person (Coach Beiste?) suddenly gifts Artie a mechanical contraption, allowing him to stand up and walk. Brittany believes in magic again. The glee kids sing for McKinley High teachers, who donate money so the gang can still give something to the homeless kids after Sue stole their presents. And Sue is so touched by it all, she breaks in to Will's house and returns all the gifts, and decorates Will's Christmas tree with the help of the glee club. That she hates.

And we heard Fox exclaim, ere "Glee" vanished from sight,

"Buy these songs on iTunes and to all a good night."

Christmas set list:

"The Most Wonderful Day of the Year"
"We Need a Little Christmas"
"Merry Christmas, Darling"
"Baby, It's Cold Outside"
"Last Christmas"
"Welcome Christmas"

[Note: "Glee" will be on hiatus until Feb. 6, when it will air after the Super Bowl. Get excited for a Katie Couric guest appearance! Seriously.]

Rachel Berry sings "Merry Christmas, Darling":

Kurt and Blaine sing "Baby, It's Cold Outside":

By Lisa de Moraes  | December 7, 2010; 10:46 PM ET
Categories:  Glee  
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Posted by: sveinyael | December 8, 2010 12:27 AM | Report abuse

Sue's not the are! This is a holiday about surprises and people acting out of character...for the better. Maybe you should try it...

Posted by: commongoldgirl | December 8, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Than there's the Smithsonion. is the post watching that to.

Posted by: scottbooth | December 8, 2010 3:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm dreading the Katie Couric episode like I would dread root canal surgery without novocaine. Why, Glee, why? She's as exciting as cold scrambled eggs.

Posted by: Jayne | December 8, 2010 4:50 AM | Report abuse

Sue's not the are! This is a holiday about surprises and people acting out of character...for the better. Maybe you should try it...

Posted by: commongoldgirl


How can you call someone a Grinch for being genuinely cynical about a show whose entire purpose is to get you to buy their crap on iTunes? If the show was little more than a shameless commercial promotion to get viewers to buy something, then...hmmm, well, I guess this is what counts as the "Christmas spirit" for a lot of Americans. Sorry if the rest of us are cynical about crass commercialism, though.

Posted by: blert | December 8, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

This was pretty much the schmaltzy episode I expected. Not that that's a bad thing, that's just what I expected from a Glee Christmas episode.

So who sang the Grinch song?

Posted by: wadejg | December 8, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a huge fan of Christmas songs unless I'm at church but I liked the show last night. Yes, it was strange but hey, that's why I like Glee!

Posted by: MILWI | December 8, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

That was a pretty terrible episode other than the Kurt/Blaine song.

Rachel just gets more unlikeable every week. "It's time for you to forgive me"?? Ick.

Posted by: moonwatcher13 | December 8, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

I find Glee nauseating. Anyone else?

Posted by: DontWannaMyPostID | December 8, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I love how everyone thinks they're an enlightened TV critic just because the Glee songs are available on iTunes. The songs are available after EVERY EPISODE; what makes this one more commercialized than others? Maybe it's the commercialization of Christmas that's bothering you folks. Or maybe it's just so fashionable to hate on Glee that you're going to write a negative review even though you have no original criticism for the show. Let's talk about the character development, dialogue, thematic construction, and musical productions of the show rather than just pissing on the show for having a Christmas episode. Sheesh

Posted by: seaj11 | December 8, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree w/Sea. Not to mention, why are you Glee haters even watching Glee? If you are, that is. Love (not) all this negativity, you folks must be a bunch of fun to know.

Posted by: MILWI | December 8, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, you called it just right. The show was predictable and commercial. No reason for most of the songs other than to sell records (excuse the outdated reference).

Can Becky really be so mean as to support Sue in all her nefarious activities? Week after week, it's barely believable, but in the Christmas season, it's not at all. I'm surprised I don't hear more complaints about it. Yes, people with Down syndrome aren't cardboard angels, but could anyone be as mean as Sue? Or is Becky just starved for attention and respect? (Do I think the Glee writers have thought it through that completely? No ....)

Posted by: SilverSpringer1 | December 8, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I'm a fan and I've bought a lot of the songs, but I've found this season really uneven.

It's always fun and I know it's dangerous to start throwing around words like "contrived" and "forced" to describe a show whose basic premise is that a bunch of high school kids can throw together a Broadway-style musical number almost instantly, but when it's bad -- and I think the Christmas episode was pretty bad (lots of weak song choices, considering all those great songs they had to choose from) -- it's hard to figure out what the writers are thinking, if not just "sell more iTunes downloads."

Whatever process they had last season for choosing songs, interpreting them, and fitting them into stories that were at least a little compelling dramatically (and somewhat coherent and consistent) seems to have broken down. Musicals are always contrived, but when they work you're too happy (or moved) to care. When they're bad, they're just boring.

Even the downloads . . . look at the sectionals episode last week. As much as I loved the Warblers' "Hey, Soul Sister" and the Gleeks' "Valerie," compare the episode to last year's. "I Had the Time of My Life," performed in a manner that would embarass the worst cruise ship "I Love the 80s" show cast? They couldn't even add a modern beat or something? Or choreography that wasn't exactly like the oher competition episodes? That's just lazy (and boring).

As for last night's "Baby, It's Cold Outside," the set was waayyyy over the top for something that wasn't supposed to be a dream sequence, the scene was so forced you could practically see the scratches from the giant shoe-horn they must have used to squeeze it into the epsiode, and the desperate attempt to look all brave by having 2 guys sing it to each other was both occasionally cringe-inducing and ruined by lousy writing -- almost like they wanted to wink to part of their audience in a big way without freaking out another part of their audience.

But . . .having said all that, I liked the number, because the song is great and the actors did a great job with it, in spite of the crappy writing. Which is why I keep watching. I just wish the writers could get their act together.

Posted by: dcpost1 | December 8, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

As other posters have observed, Sue's sure not the only grinch out there. Good grief, some of you need to lighten up!

Yes, we all know the writing on "Glee" is sloppy, and some weeks are especially bad. As a result, some characters do or say things that are, well, out of character. Guess what? That happens in real life, too. Fortunately, the ensemble's acting is more than good enough to make up for that. (Dot Jones as Coach Beste is a great addition to the cast and I'm delighted she got to shine last night.)

All that said, I do wish Emily Yahr would pay closer attention to what's going on each week instead of blaming the writers for not explaining something that they did, in fact, tell us. For example, the secret Santa who left the mechanical contraption for Artie was none other than Coach Beste.

Oh, and I'm pretty sure it was Matthew Morrison who sang the Mr. Grinch song.

Posted by: DCSteve1 | December 8, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

According to 'The Atlantic', it was kd lang who sang the Mr Grinch song.

Posted by: palmyra | December 8, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Palmyra!

Posted by: DCSteve1 | December 8, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

On the DVD the Mr. Grinch song is a duet with kd lang and Matthew Morrison.

Posted by: cevans2 | December 8, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Ya know, it's a darn shame that the author of this article couldn't "suspend the will to disbelief" long enough to enjoy this episode. I am a fan, and I have never even thought of buying any of the tunes on the show off of ITunes. Frankly, I didn't even know the songs are for sale. That being said, however, if the only reason one watches a show is to trash said show, it seems very meaningless to me. Surely there are TV shows out there that the author can watch and enjoy. It would be nice if the author would do just that and leave Glee alone. There are so many more levels to this show than songs on ITunes. The interweaving relationships of the characters not the least. Cynicism, it has been said, is the sad brother of despair. I vote the author take both her cynicism and despair and go sit and spin. It's Christmas. Put a smile on your face, and make this all a better place. Or stay the heck home!

Posted by: e2verne | December 8, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Moraes, you are way off. Will didn't spend Christmas in a sweater vest. It was a henley shirt with a heinous open suit vest. So much worse.

Posted by: menckenmensch | December 8, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Attn: Ms. Moraes. It wasn't a sweater vest. It was an unbuttoned SUIT vest with an unbuttoned henley. Which is one THOUSAND TIMES WORSE. I expect to see a correction in tomorrow's paper.

Posted by: menckenmensch | December 8, 2010 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Where did all the pseudo-intellectuals come from? If you're a Glee hater go watch a test pattern. If the fashion geniuses don't like Will's outfits go watch something else like Old Navy commercials. For those commercialism haters, it is their shopping that caused that. I find it obscene to be bambarded with at least 10 commercials on each break. I can no longer stand Ford, Progressive, State Farm, or Dunkin' and won't buy any. Glee is great, keep it up!!

Posted by: danjnjl | December 8, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Lisa, thanks so much for watching so we didn't have to. I watched because I wanted to. I actually enjoyed it even though it was a bit sappy but that's a hazard - and part of the joy - of the holiday's. If you don't believe me I'm guessing you never watched a Little House or Walton's Christmas special.

As far as your constant complaint that the tunes are available for purchase - please get over it. It's a sitcom about music. Some people will enjoy the music and want to hear it again. Certainly I would think you agree that they should purchase it instead of illegally downloading it, don't you?

With regard to Glee being commercialized, don't you have a few DVD's of favorite movies? What about a boxed set of a favorite TV show seasons? Ever have a Sesame Street toy? It is absolutely the same thing.

Posted by: JackESpratt | December 9, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of appearing as naive... what is so bad about the writing? I watched the 'Furt' episode with my sister who kept muttering how unbelievable elements of the show were. Isn't that the point of a TV comedy?

I don't ask this to negate other comments before... I truly am interested in what specific attributes of the plot sum up to "bad writing"?

Thanks so much! :)

Posted by: pickettje | December 10, 2010 2:10 AM | Report abuse

Cheesy in my book but you know cute overall...all the flavor of a Christmas special..

Charlie Bro, I mean Finn and his tree
Tiny Ti, Artie and his walker
The Grin, Sue...

So many easy to pick out references...really the touching part for me was the stuff with Artie...I half expected him to say, "God Bless us everyone."

The other stuff was good as well but that really just you know even if you have a closed off heart that had to break you just a little and move you to wisps of tears.

Posted by: FreeMarx | December 10, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

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